'I thought I had lost her:' Dog reunites with Penticton owner after five days on Coquihalla | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'I thought I had lost her:' Dog reunites with Penticton owner after five days on Coquihalla

Image Credit: Contributed
December 28, 2016 - 11:41 AM


MERRITT - After five days alone out in the cold along the Coquihalla Highway near Merritt, Rubia the dog has been found and returned to her owner.

Mark Wright, 55, adopted the seven-month-old 'potcake dog' from the Turks and Caicos Islands this past summer and she's since become part of his family. But last week, he feared she may never return home.

Wright was on his way to his sister's house for Christmas, in the Knutsford area of Kamloops. When he stopped to let his dogs out at a chain-up area near Merritt on Dec. 22, Rubia became spooked by a tractor-trailer's air brakes.

"It spooked her so bad she pulled right out of her collar and bolted down the highway," he says. "I ran after her. I was in travelling clothes so all I had was a T-shirt on and… it didn’t take five minutes to know that I wasn’t catching up with her."

Wright kept his eyes on Rubia for as long as he could, following her and her tracks for about half an hour. He was cold, wet and they had no water. He headed back to his Jeep in order to let his other 11-year-old dog in the vehicle and for some water.

"I was just absolutely devastated, I was so worried for her at the same time because I knew what she was going through," he says. "I thought I had lost her."

Wright let his sister know he would be arriving late and within minutes she had reached out to some fellow ranchers, who gave her contact information for Angel's Animal Rescue in Merritt.

He contacted them, sent pictures of Rubia and they put a poster on their Facebook page to advise the public. Wright says within an hour people contacted him with potential leads.

Angel's Animal Rescue originally posted on its Facebook page Dec. 22 that Rubia had gone missing.

"It was pretty crazy, I’m still floored by all the love that was shown," Wright says.

People in the Merritt area stepped up to the plate to help search for Rubia, and Wright says a group of ranchers went the extra mile to try and bring her home.

"They actually had their crew go out and sled several times a day for two, three, four hours at a time, blazing trails," he says. "They were barbecueing to try and entice her, they looked hard for her for... three days straight."

Wright spent hours every day searching the area for any fresh tracks that could have been made by Rubia, but each day he left empty handed.

On Boxing Day, two passersby driving the Coquihalla spotted what appeared to be an animal on the side of the road.

"The glimmer of an animal's eye caught that of Stephanie and Rhiannon... when they slowed they realized it was a malnourished dog," Angel's Animal Rescue said in its Facebook post.

While many people may have just kept driving, not these two. The two ladies called Angel's Animal Rescue shortly before midnight and the shelter kept the dog warm overnight.

"I’m in the middle of trying to hook up with them right now and then in about three or four weeks, I’m heading back (to Merritt) so I can properly thank everybody, give people hugs and show them Rubia as she’s recovered," Wright says.

Rubia avoided any major health issues like frostbite, he says, but did have some rawness on her nose and the pads of her paws. She also lost approximately 10 to 12 pounds, Wright says.

Wright says Stephanie and Rhiannon found Rubia about five kilometres away from where he last spotted her, likely because of the heavy snowfall in the area on her second night alone.

"We mostly figure she probably hunkered down underneath a tree because it was just too hard for her to get through the snow," he says.

Rubia went home with Wright yesterday, Dec. 27. He says she's either been at his feet or on his lap ever since.

The shelter posted a picture on its Facebook page of Rubia and her owner, Mark, embracing during their reunion.

"We got really, really lucky."

– This story was updated at 11:24 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016 to add information from Mark Wright.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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